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Linda Ford

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since May 02, 2013
Retired bureaucrat has moved to 40 acres of high desert grazing land that the ancients called home with incredible views of mountains and sky.
Southwestern New Mexico
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Recent posts by Linda Ford

It is very important that you keep your needle sharp.
The "strawberry" sand will clean the lint but I inherited a small Whet Stone about 1 inch by 2 !/2 inches from my Grandma. She would roll the needle along the stone whenever it would get a burr or just dull. A little drop of water is usually sufficient but an actual burr may need a light weight oil, like sewing machine oil, which also cleans and prevents rust as with any tool.  The stone is a smoother surface than sand paper or even emery cloth and can be kept close at hand. A sharp needle will obviously be easier to push through your fabric and break fewer threads.

I also will echo the advice to leave a small gap when back-stitching but it takes practice to keep your stitches even. Of course a thicker fabric will be harder to make multiple stitches at a time. I was told that the reason to wax the thread was to reduce drag while being pulled through the rough cotton fabric or the eye of the needle as well as keep it stronger.

Another tip she gave me was to be aware of the thickness (size) of the thread for the project which changes the size of the needle. Mostly I'm sloppy about that and just use what is at hand but you will be less frustrated if you pay attention to these basics while developing your skills. Keeping a small pair of needle-nose pliers in your sewing box will also be helpful.

Finally, as mentioned above, thimbles come in many styles and sizes too, and you need one that stays in place on your finger by itself. I haven't shopped for these in a very long time and my town no longer has a sewing shop but I am lucky enough to have the sewing boxes from my progenitors with several options from women who never threw anything away. Like everything else the choice will depend on whether it is pushing a needle and needs the little dents or for preventing pricks while holding the fabric and needs to be smooth. The leather is more flexible but won't last as long as it gets pricked.

Hand sewing is very rewarding as are the other fabric, needle, and yarn arts. Like everything else, after you learn the skills you can choose which "rules" to ignore.
4 months ago
My first try produced 2 pomegranate fruit once it got big enough. The next year something ate the flowers? At least they were there and then they weren't and I could see nothing on the ground. I assumed deer but no actual clue. I left the "dead" branches rather than pruning them in hopes that would discourage whatever ate the flowers. I've been told the fruit grows on new wood. The next year no flowers or fruit and it died back to "dead" that winter. The next spring a new crop of branches have grown up from the roots but no flowers. Your comments lead me to wonder about the viability of these "suckers" but as they are from the natural root why wouldn't they be just as good at the original plant?  The bush looks healthy, just no fruit.  I planted a second one a few feet away and it is now about 3 1/2 feet tall but again no flowers in it's 3rd year. Is it ok to let them become bushes rather than pruning and trying to keep them upright against our fierce winds? I would appreciate any suggestions or comments.

They are on the east side of the house but there are no obstructing plants or trees. Our prevailing wind is from the west on this high plains open landscape (zone 7 southern NM) with winter blows from the north not uncommon. I keep the area mulched with straw and the chop-n-drop weeds. It is next to where I park my pickup during the day if that would have any effect? I water during longer dry spells, again being told they are desert plants and don't like to be kept too wet.
4 months ago
Welcome Owen
I also live in the desert southwest - High Plains at 5500', around 8"/yr mostly July and August and then again January thru March and the driest months April thru May  - so I understand native flowers are limited as you noted. But you made a comment about plants under fruit trees that can mitigate pests and disease. Though working toward a self sustaining system to capture the maximum of our rain, I did put in an irrigation system to get through those really dry times so it might also support some of these other flora. I am trying to fill the space with self sustaining plants with a wide range of root depths that are compatible with chickens and would love to see flowers. What would be your suggestions?
7 months ago
You will have to do the research because I would not presume to know what would be good for you. That said, I have heard about Iguana Venom. It may be related to the helminthic therapy in the last post but I saw a news story about it as one of unconventional but effective medical treatments - like bee stings, or leaches (really) - and did find a link to it once. The problem is that it is not a Pharmaceutical so most medical people I have spoken to have never heard about it. There is a reptile farm in Arizona (and others) that gathers it and provides it for Diabetics. The report was that it helps the body balance the insulin production and the side effect was weight loss (as we now know the weight is not because of poor diet but an actual effect of the body fighting the process).

Perhaps someone else can help you find the link.
4 years ago
I want to reinforce the few that have suggested that you go to a Chiropractor!!! You seem aware that the problem in a nerve that is being irritated/pinched as it passes the hard tissue (bones) and the protective sheath is getting rubbed. The actual repair requires that the space for this nerve to pass is enlarged to it's original size. After many years of getting this way it may take several treatments to gently pry them apart, yet it is a simple procedure that has been practiced by Chiropractors for many generations. As you have been trying salves and stretches for these past several months, with only limited effect, I think it is time you consider seeking this professional help. You can be back in the yard in a few short weeks, as good as new.

You can get references from your neighbors. Then the Doctor will start by explaining the physiology of his/her treatment. I know it seems "too easy" to just move the pressure off the nerve, but that is it in a nutshell. The bulging disc is also the result of the vertebrae being "pinched" through years of pressure, gravity, etc.

My own experience is with both neck and lower back pain resulting from a car accident. It does recur because of my own activities and yet I know it is so easy to go get relief.

WHAT IF this was a simple solution that you have been avoiding because the general Medical Profession is stuck in their own pharmacology and surgical solutions.
PLEASE, give Chiropractic a try before you allow any invasive surgery or even continue untreated any longer.
4 years ago
I don't like all the pictures on the home page taking up space and making it harder to find the section I'm interested in on this visit. The rest just seem like I'll need to get used to it. Yet it seems some of these changes may have forgotten us old folks who don't have all the computer savvy (like what is an "fn" key?) What seems "simple" to you may not be intuitive for me.

And, I also did not know about a mobile format. Where it that, how do I get there, etc. I simply gave up trying to be here from my Android except to listen to podcasts.
Have you considered Hugle-berms? As the point is to keep what rain does fall, the berms keep it from running off and the Hugle not only soaks in that water but is decaying. I have installed these in my High Desert land that grows "weeds" very well but not "crops." If you haven't watched the Greening The Desert (1 and 2) I recommend it as that is what convinced me to try. If he was successful in the Jordan Desert (gray lifeless salty sand) with only 2" average rain fall, it would seem our 6" to 10" ought to work too. I dug 1 1/2' deep trenches so I could use that dirt to cover the woody stuff. Big wood last longer but if you want more rapid decomposition you could use just what is around. I have a mix of old tree parts and the 'sticks' from our weeds. The land seems to want to shade itself and grows a wide of variety of stuff.

My open land is covered by gamma grasses and where that is there are less tumble weeds (Russian thistle?) which takes over the disturbed areas. Those seems to make a great chop and drop plant, leaving the woody sticks behind but they collapse easily when stepped on. The chickens really like the young plants. I have enlisted the help of a Native Plant knowledgeable friend for my first plantings, but the trees actually went in first though I have been told the cover crops should have that honor, especially the nitrogen rich ones like alfalfa. But the whole thing is about catching the rain we do get.

I will be following your progress and, of course, share my results. So far the Sun chokes have survived. They were 'stunted' the first year but did grow some nodes. Then this year they have sprouted whole new plants. I didn't know they would do that but that should make good shade so I'm excited to see how they do this year.
5 years ago
Thank you Susan, that was very informative and gave me a good basic understanding of the scaffold and multiple layering principals. I will still have to determine just how much pruning I want to do but even the minimal will require selection. I am pretty sure it was pruned at the nursery to eliminate the lower growth. I have read how they do that with most their trees. I don't know if it has a health component or just for most people's aesthetic but I knew that getting anything else was going to be very difficult in my area. My hope is to get these trees growing and the guilds in place and then add seeds & seedlings for the second generation which can be established more to permaculture principals without grafts, deep tap roots and low branches. But first things first.

I thought it interesting that he suggested not letting it fruit in the first year (or two?) to build a stronger form. That would suggest I pinch off much of the other tree's sets as well. I was going to lighten the load anyway but now I'll be more severe. I had planned on still watering regularly though perhaps a bit less intensely to force root growth (which may depend on the actual weather) and less fruit will mean less stress. It is a shame as so many years get no fruit that in a year with the perfect weather I'm going to restrict it.


Thanks Bryant, as that is exactly the advice I was hoping for. I feared just bending it over and leaving that big curve. I hadn't thought of using several lines and adjusting them over time. I have done that with house plants that wanted to stray out of their pots so I can see it would work here as well.

John, I see what you are saying, and after watching this video I better understand the options, so as I am worried about the weight of this side anyway that may very well dictate my selection. Thanks for pointing that out. I presume I should wait for the dormant season (late fall or winter...) to make that cut anyway? It sounds like there may be a decision as to which of the two leads will be taken off as the "lower" one might be favored to stay? Or would that close angle still be a problematic structure even without the other side?

Joseph, that was my first inclination too. I'm glad to hear someone else likes "interesting" tree shapes. I believe I will try to err on the side of balance this year, however, just to ensure the whole thing doesn't fall over before it can grow decent roots. I doubt it will ever be very symmetrical with this start and that is fine with me as it will add interest to the future stroll though the garden. I anticipate my windy conditions may do some other unplanned pruning in the future as well.

5 years ago
It has been 3 years since your first post. What did you try and with what results?
Here in SW NM I was advised to plant Az Cypress at the furthest end of my yard (they need some room to grow big and bushy) and Mesquite and Acacia outside the garden fence. I bought larger trees but as they are still only in their 2nd year they aren't much of a wind break yet.

I built a large swale and burm (on contour) at that far end and put the Az Cypress on the downslope side to take advantage of the water "lens" (underground pooling). They have required regular watering this first year and one blew over because the roots hadn't penetrated past the caliche "bowl" it was planted in. Stood it up and re-staked it and it seems to be ok. I also 'planted' watering tubes (3" thin wall pvc with holes at the bottom) hoping that once established I will only need to supplement them in the driest months. I used the 3" thin walled because they make a cap for the 3" and it doesn't fit tight in the thin wall so it is easy to remove without pliers. To do it again I would use a longer tube so that I could fill it with 3-5 gals of water at one time and walk away rather than thinking of them as simply "access" to the root ball. The ollas seem like a tried and true desert adaptation as well, though they only hold a few quarts of water at a time.

I have seen ranchers use bamboo along fields but 1) get the least spreading kind and 2) it still needs aggressive cutting to keep it just along the fence line and out of the field, where the water is. It grows fast but once planted it is forever. If you are looking for a material to build other fences with, the bamboo was well recommended.

I don't know if you know that the Prickly-pear pads are also edible as well as the fruit. Processing videos can be found on youtube. So are mesquite beans which are good for livestock as well.

The waiting is the hardest part!
5 years ago
A good observation. The problem is finding a "different breed" of tree in our local nurseries. I had a similar problem in my demand for a fruiting mulberry, which is illegal in our cities, even though I live far out in the country. Thus I am stuck making a compromise to limited pruning to maintain the tree while continuing to search for and plant other "breeds." The Chow will have to do to keep the Coyotes at a distance but will not be successful at protection from the mountain lion.

I will own up to my ignorance and thus reliance on the recommendations from friends and professionals, none of whom told me that a Peach required intensive pruning. I asked for a variety of fruiting trees for a food forest in chicken pastures. Everyone of them knew I was not creating a traditional Peach Orchard. There are many small orchards around here that include happy Peach trees that do not appear to be heavily pruned and are shaped like average trees mixed in with apples and other varieties. My parents had a Peach bought at a local city nursery (probably some dwarf type) that they never did anything to and, in the years it did not succumb to a freeze, was very prolific.

My Food Forest journey is just beginning. I am too old to hope to build something from seeds in the years I have left so I must start 'somewhere' with what is available. A Rat Terrier may not become a prize herding dog but it can be taught not to chase the sheep all over the field and to respond to commands thus becoming more of a help than a hindrance. I appreciate all the advice and recommendations I find here and will do my best to learn as I go. Please have patience (with us) and continue to share your wisdom.
5 years ago